Thursday, March 29, 2012

Egg-Shaped Easter Puzzles

Today we made egg-shaped Easter puzzles! Our project had two parts - first we made them, then we got to play with them!

The other day I was cleaning out our craft drawers and ended up with several pieces of thin cardboard (like what's on the back of a pad of paper!). I decided to hold on to them to reuse them and came up with the idea to make little puzzles!

I flipped through an Easter coloring book and cut out several images in the shape of an Easter egg. I was so happy to even find a picture of an Easter egg to use! Molly (5) used a glue stick to attach the pictures to our cardboard and I cut them out.

She and Ben (2) each got to color a few... and Molly insisted I color the rest (wahoo!).


When all the eggs were colored, I cut them each into a few pieces with jagged edges to look like cracked egg shells. I made Ben's easy and only did two pieces for him, but Molly's had three or more apiece.  She also cut one of her own!

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Easy Homemade Easter Decorations

The first activity in our Countdown to Easter today was to decorate. We finally took down our St. Patrick's Day ornaments from our holiday tree and made it an Easter tree! I also like to put decorations in our big living room windows so I came up with a fun project using construction paper and bleach!

First I cut out several large egg shapes from different colored construction paper.  I poured a small amount of bleach in a little cup and laid out plenty of paper towels! After covering Molly (5) in one of my old t-shirts for protection and cautioning her of the lasting effects of bleach, I let her "paint" on the paper eggs with the bleach using a cotton swab! As the bleach dries, it takes away the color of the paper and leaves behind your design!

Molly really loved this project - we made 20 eggs to tape in our windows! Green paper actually showed up the best and turned a great yellow with the bleach. If you use more bleach and it soaks all the way through the paper, it looks really neat in a window because the light will shine right through it!

Meanwhile, Ben (2), also got to "paint" some paper eggs... only his cup just had water in it. (wink!)

Another fun decoration we made was an Easter garland! I found this idea online here on a neat blog I stumbled upon. It is so simple and fun to make: just snap several plastic Easter eggs onto some yarn or string and hang it up!

Monday, March 26, 2012

Countdown to Easter

I found this idea on Pinterest and I had to make one of our own! This was a very fun project for me and Molly (5), though there were some grown-up parts I needed to do. I am very excited to start the countdown tomorrow for both of my kids, including Ben (2).

Here's what you'll need:

a cookie sheet
hot glue gun
plastic Easter eggs
permanent marker or stickers
extras as desired

First, paint an old (or inexpensive) cookie sheet completely. We used an old one that was pretty beat up and painted it with satin gloss acrylic paint ... left over from when we painted Molly's room a couple years ago! You can also use spray paint, but having Molly do the painting was part of the fun! While the paint is drying, hot glue magnets to the back of twelve plastic Easter eggs. I found a pack of really neat colors at Target, but a whole pack of 18 eggs in pastels for just a buck at the Dollar Store, so we combined them so there would be twelve different colors.

Have your child apply stickers to the eggs with the numbers 1 through 12. This was a fun counting project and a quick way to add the numbers. Otherwise you can use contact paper or a permanent marker to make your numbers. You can use stickers to add "Countdown to Easter" once your tray is dry... I wrote on mine with permanent markers.

Just for extra decoration I hot-glued a fake carnation on ours, and added a couple of stickers. Add your eggs via magnet and you're done! Oh - one more thing! Don't forget to fill your eggs! You can put fun treats like stickers or candy in them... or what I did was put notes in them with a special activity to do each day. Examples of things I wrote are: "Visit the Easter Bunny"; "Decorate Easter Eggs"; and "Make a special Easter Snack".

If you'd like, you can also include the story of Easter in your countdown eggs. Here is a link to a blog I found that includes instructions:

Easter Story in Eggs

Here is a link to the original blog I got this idea from via Pinterest:

Original Easter Countdown Idea

Friday, March 23, 2012

Travel Tic Tac Toe Board

My daughter, Molly (5), has recently learned to play Tic Tac Toe! Of course she only wants to follow the rules part of the time, but for a girl who normally makes her own rules and creates her own games, she does really well! We made a Travel Tic Tac Toe Board together, that I kind of came up with as we went along. The final product turned out really fun and I can't wait to make some really neat themed ones in the future!

Here's what you'll need:
Foam sheets, or colored poster board
Square of cardboard
Hot Glue
Stick-on Velcro circles

First I drew circles for Molly to cut out from some foam sheets. You'll need two opposing colors and five circles each.

While she was busy cutting the circles, I prepared the board by cutting out a square from a cardboard box. Tape the edges to be sure they're smooth.

Let your child personalize the board with paint! We used acrylic paints. Your child can further personalize their game set by putting stickers on the circles they cut out.  Molly chose butterflies and reptiles, but you can also use seasonal images or characters. I was kind of hoping she would choose flower stickers since it's finally Spring!

When the paint is dry, hot glue ribbon to your square to make the Tic Tac Toe board.  Apply stick-on Velcro fasteners to the middle of each square. I put the soft side on the board and the rough side on the back of each circle. Don't forget to include an extra soft side of Velcro on the back of the board so you can store your 10th circle when you're not playing!

Monday, March 19, 2012

Polka Dot Tag!

We had some beautiful weather and spent some quality time playing outside with one of my favorite things: sidewalk chalk! After working on a few pictures with my daughter (5) and son (2), I started drawing some big circles all over the driveway with the intention of having my kids hop from one circle to the next like pretend lily pads.

Then we all started a game of tag! The catch? You can only step in the circles! I came up with two ways to win this simple version. Firstly, you can win by tagging someone just like regular tag. Secondly, you can win by stepping into the same circle as someone you're chasing!

As many games do, our game morphed and I added in another complication: I drew circles in a different color! The secondary color has less circles and are meant only for whoever is "it" and doing the chasing. This makes it significantly harder for the chaser to tag their victims!

Finally, I added in a final complication to our game to create the final version of "Polka Dot Tag!" In addition to all the circles, draw a half circle in each color on both sides of your driveway. These half circles serve as "home base" for both teams - the runners had white circles in our case, and whoever was "it" had the orange circles. Now here's the rules: begin in your designated color home base, on opposite sides of the driveway from each other. When you shout "On your mark! Get set! Go!" begin running across the driveway - careful to only step in your own color of circles. The object of the game is to make it across to your other home base without getting tagged! You're it!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Leprechaun Masks

I came up with a quick craft project for my kids on St. Patrick's Day - Leprechaun masks! I started with a paper plate and cut a circle out of the middle then flattened it out a little. Molly (5) and Ben (2) colored around the whole edge with an orange crayon.

Meanwhile, I cut out a top hat from green construction paper, a black strip, and a yellow buckle. I measured the black strip over each hat and snipped the edges to fit perfect. To make the buckle, I simply cut out a square from yellow construction paper, lightly folded it in half, and cut two parallel slits in it without cutting all the way through the square. I had Molly weave the strip of black paper through it and glue it all to the hat.

To save time, I simply stapled the hat to the kids' paper plates. Be careful to place the staples so the rough edges would be on the front of the mask and not where they could scratch your kids. Finally I taped a craft stick to the bottom and let Molly decorate hers with stickers. This craft was so fun and quick! As my kids get older they could probably do more of it on their own, but for now it was super fun for them to play with! Molly even insisted she saw a little Leprechaun run through our back yard while we worked on the masks!

St. Patrick's Day Quick and Easy Fun Food Ideas

Sorry it's a day late, but here are a couple more ideas for St. Patrick's Day! We started our day off with green, shamrock-shaped chocolate chip pancakes. I just added green food coloring to our regular batter and poured it in groups of three circles, with a little stem. Some of them were just regular circles too. We never eat plain pancakes - they MUST have chocolate chips in them and I'm a little particular about my chip to bite ratio, so I individually place 5 to 7 morsels per pancake as they cook. If you stir them straight into the batter, there's less likely to be one in every single bite! And there's my friendly, kinda over the top pancake tip. :O)

At lunchtime, Molly (5) reminded me about some lime green Halloween mashed potato snakes I made for dinner one night, and she told me I "had" to make them today! I can't believe she remembered! That just goes to show you that is is definitely worth it to do a little something special for your kids! Here is a link to my old blog about the snakes:

Meanwhile, I made some instant mashed potatoes a darker green this time and served shamrock mashed potatoes for lunch! I used a plastic baggie with a corner cut off to pipe the mashed potatoes onto our plates. Just be sure to use oven mitts if the potatoes are still too hot to handle!

Friday, March 16, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Handprint Shamrock and More

Since tomorrow is St. Patrick's Day, I know I won't have time to blog about everything we'll do between now and then, so I'll make a quick list of simple ideas for you to try with your kids! For breakfast, you can serve green scrambled eggs and shamrock-shaped toast! I have a shamrock cookie cutter but you can always just cut it yourself. Then, instead of plain cinnamon and sugar on your toast, use green sugar sprinkles (like you would put on cookies)! You can always make anything green with food coloring, too! Try banana bread, blueberry muffins, or pancakes for a lucky green breakfast!

One of my favorite treats to make for St. Patrick's Day, starting when I was in college even, is green mint-chocolate chip cookies! Make your traditional chocolate chip cookies like normal, but add green food coloring to your dough, as well as about a teaspoon of peppermint extract. Yum!

Finally, here are two fun and easy keepsake crafts you can make for St. Patrick's Day. If we do more I'll try to post them, but there's no guarantee you'll see it before it's too late!

Here's a cute handprint craft I've done with Molly (5) and Ben (2) each year - handprint shamrocks! I just use green finger paint to cover their whole hand and make three (or four, if you're feeling lucky!) handprints on the paper. I painted in the stems myself to complete the picture.

This year I also came up with the idea to just use their fingerprints to make shamrocks. Molly could make clusters of three or four on her own but I guided Ben's fingers to make his. We made just one shamrock each for a small picture to decorate a St. Patrick's Day card but it would also be neat to make a whole field of shamrocks with lots and lots of fingerprints!

**Remember! If you want to add GREEN glitter, just sprinkle it on before your paint is wet and it will stick as it dries. :O)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Birthday Cake Handprint

I have one final birthday project to blog about and then I promise I'll move on to something else! I found this cute idea on Pinterest to make a birthday cake out of your child's hand print! I'm not sure if it will work after age five, but at least it will be cute until your child's 6th birthday. That, and I'm a sucker for making things out of handprints!!

Carefully color your child's palm with the first color of paint. We just used finger paints since they're washable and afterwards Molly (5) and Ben (2) got free rein to paint however they wanted. Next, color only a finger per year of your child's age. ie Ben just turned two so I only colored two of his fingers with paint! I liked using a different color for each finger... aka "candle!"

Now have your child spread out their fingers and place their hand flat on the paper. What shows up is a cute little birthday cake with the correct number of candles! Add orange or yellow flames to the tips of your candles and glitter or painted decoration to your birthday cake if desired. I labeled each of my kid's picture with their name and age. These will be so fun to display at each birthday!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Birthday Interview - 20 Questions!

I've read the idea before to interview your child every year on their birthday. Some people go so far as to even record their child's answers on video. I've half-heartedly interviewed Molly(5) before, but had trouble thinking up questions. I think she was a little young, too. This year, however, I finally found an actual list of 20 questions to ask your child each year on Pinterest!

I tweaked a couple of the questions and interviewed Molly on her 5th birthday. Her answers were so sweet and sincere! I thought she might give some silly answers but she took the process very seriously! I plan to print out a nice copy of her answers and include them in her baby book each year. Hopefully I can start asking Ben(2) the same questions once he turns five... or maybe sooner.

My favorite answers of Molly's were her favorite holiday: Mother's Day!! ... and what does she want to be when she grows up? A farmer... except a farmer with penguins on her farm!

Here is the list of questions I used for my child's Birthday Interview:

1. What is your favorite color?

2. What is your favorite toy?
3. What is your favorite fruit?
4. What is your favorite tv show?
5. What is your favorite thing for lunch?
6. What is your favorite outfit?
7. What is your favorite snack?
8. What is your favorite game?
9. What is your favorite animal?
10. What is your favorite book?
11. What is your favorite song?
12. Who is your best friend?
13. What is your favorite movie?
14. What is your favorite thing to do outside?
15. What is your favorite drink?
16. What is your favorite holiday?
17. What do you like to take with you to bed at night?
18. What is your favorite thing to eat for breakfast?
19. What do you want to eat for your birthday dinner?
20. What do you want to be when you grow up?

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Fun Birthday Books to Read With Your Child

I just thought I'd take a moment to share some of my favorite "birthday books" I read with my kids at bedtime. These titles don't mention a birthday, so you wouldn't necessarily find them in a search.

Here's one we've been reading forever and it's one of Molly's(5) favorites year 'round. *I can't believe I had to just type that Molly is five!! Her birthday was Friday and I still can't believe I have a five-year-old! Anyway... The Jolly Barnyard by Annie North Bedford is a Little Golden Book Classic. It goes through all the farm animals and what they eat and what they do for the farmer, all on Farmer Brown's birthday.

A Little Fairy Magic by Julia Hubery has a really cute story line about a sweet little mouse on her birthday who does some "real" magic for her little brother. Of course since Molly has a little brother, Ben(2), it's perfect for her! **I can't believe I had to just type that Ben is two!! His birthday was on Saturday and I still can't believe my baby is already two! Anyway...

My daughter is really into scary things like vampires, witches, Frankenstein and Darth Vader, so Wolf's Coming! by Joe Kulka is right up her alley. It's a surprising story about all the animals running away from Wolf before he sees them. We have fun finding the blue balloon on every page and it has a very fun and NOT scary ending!

Finally, one of my personal favorites is Every Cowgirl Needs a Horse by Rebecca Janni. It is so cute and cleverly written! She tells a story of a little cowgirl living in a regular neighborhood who just wants a horse for her birthday. At the beginning, she "shakes the sleep from her braids" and from that moment on I love reading every word!

Here are links to each of these books on

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Excavator Birthday Cake

    My kids' birthdays are only one day apart - March 9th and March 10th, so we have a pretty busy couple of days! My son turned 2 (!) and had a construction-themed birthday party. I found directions for a really cute no-bake cake on It was a little easy and a lot of fun. Here's the link for the instructions online and how I did it:

Family Fun

The recipe called for a pound cake but I couldn't find one anywhere so I bought an angel food cake and it worked great! I cut off about a third of it and placed it on top.

Then I covered the whole thing in yellow frosting. I also frosted a Twinkie to be the loader, and half a Twinkie to be the bucket. Check out my previous blog HEREfor my frosting recipe. Here's a link to it:

The arms of the loader are two Twix candy bars! Next, I piped on an outline of the loader, some windows and and a driver using melted chocolate. It was a little harder to control than frosting, but it dried really quickly and didn't blend into the yellow. This was all done a day in advance, so my cake spent some time in the fridge and held up great.

The day of the party I added all the candy extras. I used gum drops as lights on top and both the front and back lights. Four mini chocolate donuts made perfect tires... and it was my personal favorite part of the cake to eat! Another Twix bar makes the smoke stack and yellow jelly beans made the spikes on the bucket. The hardest part was working with those darn yellow Twizzlers! I finally just stuck them in place with toothpicks and a lot of frosting!

The final step was to crush some Oreos and spread it around to create dirt, along with some chocolate candy rocks I found at Wal-Mart! This cake was so fun to make and if you leave off the bucket part it is so easy! Even that part wasn't so hard... and definitely worth it for my sweet 2-year old baby boy!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Lizard Birthday Cake

My daughter, Molly, had her 5th birthday party this past weekend at a super fun place called Leaping Lizards in Olathe, KS. When I asked her what kind of birthday cake she wanted for the party, she decided on a pink lizard cake! I agreed and immediately began searching my cookbooks, magazines and online for a template. Unfortunately, all I came up with was some very professional looking cakes or very silly looking ones. I just didn't find what I was looking for!

Luckily I came across a crocodile cake on and it was the perfect shape I was looking for! Following their directions with just a few tweaks, I was able to put together a pink lizard cake for my little girlie! Here is a link to the cake directions I found:

 Family Fun

First, I started with a round bundt cake pan and just used a boxed cake mix (party confetti, per Molly's request!). I let the cake cool completely before I took it out of the pan and began cutting. You might even want to freeze it first to make it easier. Anyway, I cut the cake into three equal sections. I sliced one of the sections diagonally from one end to the other.

Place the two full pieces next to each other on your platter so they form opposite curves. Cut off the corners of your lizard's head to make it more rounded. This was a change from the original directions I found online. Then place one of your diagonally sliced pieces slanting down to become your lizard's tail, and trim it to the shape you want. Finally, cut the other diagonally sliced piece into smaller chunks that will be come feet and place them along the sides of your lizard. Note: I also had to slice off the bottom of each of my pieces so the lid to my cake container would fit over the cake for transportation, so be sure to allow room if you need it! Don't worry if your cake doesn't fit together like a perfect puzzle - the frosting will cover any imperfections!

Now here is the most important part: FREEZE YOUR CAKE! This way, when you frost it there won't be so many crumbs to get in your way! Meanwhile, make or color your frosting. I made homemade frosting and used food coloring to make it hot pink.

Here is my recipe for frosting:
Blend together 1 stick of butter and 1/2 cup of shortening. Mix in 3 cups of powdered sugar... maybe a little extra, until fluffy. Finally, stir in 1 teaspoon of vanilla, 1 tablespoon of milk, and 1 egg white. Add in your food coloring and if it's too thick, just add a little extra milk. Yum!!

Ok, now frost your cake. Use more than you think you need! You can do all of these steps a day or two ahead of time... just freeze or refrigerate the cake until you need it. Then, the day of your party, add on all the fun candy decorations! I used gum drops in alternating colors to make the spikes down my lizard's back. I cut two white gum drops in half to be the whites of it's eyes, then stuck a chocolate chip on each for the pupil. Pink jelly beans made perfect claws on the feet, and I cut a licorice twist to fit for the tongue - I even forked it with kitchen shears! Happy 5th birthday to my special little girl!!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Sew Easy Fleece Hat!

My daughter, Molly (4), has really been interested in sewing lately so I found a great project for her and I to work on! We made a really easy and cute fleece hat! This was actually from a pattern I bought several years ago but I made this one by memory. Here it goes!

First, cut out two pieces of fleece in kind of a "bunny ear" shape, pictured below. The dimensions are about 9" wide at the bottom, and 14" tall. They should each be the same, and totally symmetrical from one side to the other. Be sure you find the front of the fleece - the design on it will be brightest on the front.

Put both pieces together, with the fronts touching. Use straight pins to hold them together if your child is old enough to be careful... of course surely if your child is old enough to use your sewing machine then they are also old enough for straight pins! haha!

Next, use a straight stitch on your sewing machine to sew your fleece pieces together... but don't sew the bottom closed! For this part, Molly sat on my lap and I held the fabric while she pressed down on the foot petal. I had raised it up on a box so she could reach it easily.

When you're done sewing around the edges, fold the bottom up a few inches, all the way around, pictured above. Remember - you're still working with it inside out! Now sew all around that edge. *Be careful to fold down the seams as you sew over them so there won't be any bumps! (pictured below)

Finally, turn your hat right side out. The last step is to tie each bunny ear into a knot. Now hope for warmer weather than we are having and enjoy your new fleece hat!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Paper Shamrocks

Some of you know that I now babysit 4 month old twins - all day, every day. I have kept up with projects for my kids, but I admit there hasn't been as many and I haven't had the time or energy to post them on my blog. After allowing half a month to pass by without a post, though, I am determined to catch up and keep up!

St. Patrick's Day is right around the corner, so we have decorated our holiday tree accordingly. We have also cut out paper shamrocks from green construction paper. I folded a sheet in half and drew it on the paper for Molly (4) to cut out herself. We also constructed shamrocks by cutting out hearts and gluing three of them together and added a stem to form a shamrock! All of our shamrocks are taped up in our large living room window. After we taped up snowflakes and hearts last month, I really loved how that looked as opposed to smaller window-clings you can buy.

*You can see the three-heart shamrock glued together at the bottom of this picture!

Meanwhile, Molly found a new and clever use for the left-over paper after we cut our heart shapes out of them! She glued the green paper with heart cut-outs onto a sheet of white construction paper. Now the hearts formed frames! Molly had a fun time drawing a picture of each of her family members in the spaces. I love my creative girlie!